The New York Giants are doing interesting things with Julian Love in the secondary. Similar to baseball, having a utility player allows teams to supplement positions that I’ve been hit by injury or inadequate play. The same is happening with Love, as he is being groomed to play strong safety, free safety, and cornerback.
Having the ability to play three positions in the NFL makes him extremely valuable, and while I don’t think he will be acting as an every play starter, his impact can be significant.
The New York Giants watched a player blossom:
In 2019, Love earned his first opportunities when starting strong safety Jabrill peppers went down in week 12. After hurting his hip on a punt return, Peppers was forced to miss the rest of the season, allowing Love to showcase his skills. In his first game against the Chicago Bears, Julian earned his first career interception.
According to Giants.com, love played in at least 97% of the Giants’ defensive snaps in the final five games of the 2019 season. He looked comfortable playing close to the line of scrimmage against the run and dropping back into coverage.
The former Notre Dame product entered the NFL as a cornerback forward player, but he has adapted quickly to the different positions in the secondary. He finished his rookie season with 35 combined tackles, five tackles for loss, one quarterback hit, one interception, three passes defended, and one forced fumble. PFF ranked love as the number 13 defensive back on its top 50 NFL rookie rankings list. He was the ninth-best safety in the box post-Peppers and only allowed 18 yards in coverage.
ESPN was another outlet that named love as a potential breakout player in 2020.
As ESPN’s Rivers McCown writes, “One of the youngest players on the list, Love was an easy middle-of-the-field pick for the Giants in the middle rounds of the draft, and one of the few players who showed Dave Gettleman recognizes that the passing game exists. Love essentially didn’t break the lineup until Week 12 but played almost all the Giants snaps from Week 13 to the end of the season. Over that span, we have Love credited with 21 targets into his coverage, of which he allowed just 72 yards and one touchdown. He moved from cornerback to strong safety to replace the injured Jabrill Peppers.
Overall, the Giants secure a steal in Love as a fourth-round pick in 2019. He has a crucial role to play on the Giants, and with injuries such a big part of the game, he will be there to supplement any losses. He is an excellent player, and we are just starting to see the type of potential he holds moving forward.